Loss of Innocence – Child Abuse in India

Children are innocent, hence they form the most vulnerable part of our society. Their innocence needs to be protected but unfortunately it is abused by their most trusted “friends”. Most sexual abuse offenders are acquainted with their victims; approximately 30% are relatives of the child, most often brothers, fathers, uncles or cousins; around 60% are other acquaintances, such as “friends” of the family, babysitters, or neighbors; strangers are the offenders in approximately 10% of child sexual abuse cases.

According to  Medline Plus. U.S. National Library of Medicine Child sexual abuse can occur in a variety of settings, including home, school, or work. The effects of child sexual abuse can include depressionpost-traumatic stress disorder,anxietycomplex post-traumatic stress disorder, propensity to further victimization in adulthood, and physical injury to the child, among other problems. Sexual abuse by a family member is a form of incest, and can result in more serious and long-term psychological trauma, especially in the case of parental incest.

19% of the world’s children live in India, which constitutes 42% of India’s total population.

In 2007 the Ministry of Women and Child Development published the “Study on Child Abuse: India 2007.”It sampled 12447 children, 2324 young adults and 2449 stakeholders across 13 states. It looked at different forms of child abuse: physical abusesexual abuse and emotional abuse and girl child neglect in five evidence groups, namely, children in a family environment, children in school, children at work, children on the street and children in institutions.

The study’s main findings included: 53.22% of children reported having faced sexual abuse. Among them 52.94% were boys and 47.06% girls. Andhra PradeshAssamBiharand Delhi reported the highest percentage of sexual abuse among both boys and girls, as well as the highest incidence of sexual assaults. 21.90% of child respondents faced severe forms of sexual abuse, 5.69% had been sexually assaulted and 50.76% reported other forms of sexual abuse. Children on the street, at work and in institutional care reported the highest incidence of sexual assault. The study also reported that 50% of abusers are known to the child or are in a position of trust and responsibility and most children had not reported the matter to anyone.

Child abuse in India is often a hidden phenomenon especially when it happens in the home or by family members. Focus with regards to abuse has generally been in the more public domain such as child labour, prostitution, marriage, etc. Intra-family abuse or abuse that takes place in institutions such as schools or government homes has received minimal attention. This may be due to the structure of family in India and the role children have in this structure.

Children in India are often highly dependent on their parents and elders; they continue to have submissive and obedient roles towards their parents even after they have moved out of their parental home. This belief that parents and family are the sole caretaker of the child has proved to have negative effects on child protection laws and strategies. Numbers of cases of child abuse in the home are hard to attain because most of these crimes go unreported. Societal abuses that are a result of poverty such as malnutrition, lack of education, poor health, neglect, etc are recognized in various forms by the Indian legal system. But India does not have a law that protects children against abuse in the home.

Mal-treatment of care givers has the potential to emotionally and mentally harm children to a very different degree. Studies in intra-familial child abuse in the US have shown correlation to delinquency, crime, teenage pregnancy, and other psycho social problems.

To know more and help visit

http://www.childlineindia.org.in/rights.htm

 

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Value of a Meal – Malnutrition in India

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Have you ever felt extremely happy when someone tells you that you have lost weight. I personally have been struggling to lose my extra pounds and have never given a thought to what a blessing it is to have a full healthy meal available whenever I want. It is difficult for overnourished people like myself to understand the plight of malnutrition. In my continued research on the problems faced by the children of India, malnutrition was  a major  problem. It was not only a problem in itself but also the root of many other problems.One in every three malnourished children in the world lives in India.

The World Bank estimates that India is ranked 2nd in the world of the number of children suffering from malnutrition. The UN estimates that 2.1 million Indian children die before reaching the age of 5 every year – four every minute – mostly from preventable illnesses such as diarrhoea, typhoidmalariameasles and pneumonia. Every day, 1,000 Indian children die because of diarrhoea alone. According to the 1991 census of India, it has around 150 million children, constituting 17.5% of India’s population, who are below the age of 6 years.

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Malnutrition in children is not affected by food intake alone; it is also influenced by access to health services, quality of care for the child and pregnant mother as well as good hygiene practices. Girls are more at risk of malnutrition than boys because of their lower social status. Malnutrition in early childhood has serious, long-term consequences because it impedes motor, sensory, cognitive, social and emotional development. Malnourished children are less likely to perform well in school and more likely to grow into malnourished adults, at greater risk of disease and early death. Around one-third of all adult women are underweight. Inadequate care of women and girls, especially during pregnancy, results in low- birthweight babies. Nearly 30 per cent of all newborns have a low birth weight, making them vulnerable to further malnutrition and disease.Vitamin and mineral deficiencies also affect children’s survival and development.

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One of the major causes for malnutrition in India is gender inequality. Due to the low social status of Indian women, their diet often lacks in both quality and quantity. Women who suffer malnutrition are less likely to have healthy babies. In India, mothers generally lack proper knowledge in feeding children. Consequently, newborn infants are unable to get adequate amount of nutrition from their mothers.

Subodh Varma, writing in The Times of India, states that on the Global Hunger Index India is on place 67 among the 80 nations having the worst hunger situation which is worse than nations such as North Korea or Sudan. 25% of all hungry people worldwide live in India. Since 1990 there has been some improvements for children but the proportion of hungry in the population has increased. In India 44% of children under the age of 5 are underweight. 72% of infants and 52% of married women have anaemia. Research has conclusively shown that malnutrition during pregnancy causes the child to have increased risk of future diseases, physical retardation, and reduced cognitive abilities.

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There are many government and non-government institutes working towards reducing these alarming numbers. We must work together to spread awareness among parents regarding the the right kind of nutrition that needs for children, we must make people in rural and illiterate areas aware of the facilities they can avail to, we must make sure that the new policies introduced by the government are implemented efficiently. We have a lot to be grateful about, its about time we share our blessings with others.

To know more and help click on the link below

http://www.theaahm.org/national-alliances/national-alliance-detail/en/c/105/?no_cache=1

The Girl Child – A Shameful Truth

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The girl child in India has been the victim of the society’s narrow-minded traditions for a long time. Blind believe in outdated traditional practices has led to the inhumane act of killing an innocent unborn child. A child is murdered  just because it is a girl. It is killed because it is believes to be a burden. The worst part is that the pressure to abort a girl child often comes from a women herself and it is sad that any civilized society believes that it can progress or even continue to exist without women in it. Some of the common social stigmas associated with birth of a girl child are:

  • Menace of dowry
  • Fear of loss of face in local community
  • Desire to keep the wealth within the family, through sons
  • Fear of dependence of the girl on the family, for life
  • Attempt to control family size

For every 100 males born there are 105 females born however, most females are killed within 3 days after their birth making the new ratio 93 females for every 100 males. According to the report, female child population in the age group of 0-6 years was 78.83 million in 2001 which declined to 75.84 million in 2011.In 1994 determining the sex of fetuses was outlawed if it wasn’t deemed medically necessary.   However, ultrasounds are still used to determine the sex of a baby illegally. According to reports

 “Ultrasounds are used to save 1 out of 20,000 babies and kill 20 out of every 100 because it reveals the baby is the wrong gender.”

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If a girl child is not killed before she is born, she will continue to suffer after her birth. Some socking statistics by the All India Survey  that talk about the discrimination shown towards girl child show that:

  • While in 1960 there were 976 girls born for every 1000 boys, in 2001, there are only 927 girls for every 1000 boys.
  • Of the 12 million girls born in India, 1 million do not see their first birthday.
  • Of the 12 million girls born in India, 3 million do not see their fifteenth birthday, and a million of them are unable to survive even their first birthday.
  • One-third of these deaths take place at birth.
  • Every sixth girl child’s death is due to gender discrimination.
  • Females are victimized far more than males during childhood.
  • 1 out of every 10 women reported some kind of child sexual abuse during childhood, chiefly by known persons.
  • 1 out of 4 girls is sexually abused before the age of 4.
  • 19% are abused between the ages of 4 and 8.
  • 28% are abused between the ages of 8 and 12.
  • 35% are abused between the ages of 12 and 16.
  • 3 lakh more girls than boys die every year
  • Female mortality exceeds male mortality in 224 out of 402 districts in India.
  • Death rate among girls below the age of 4 years is higher than that of boys. Even if she escapes infanticide or feticide, a girl child is less likely to receive immunisation, nutrition or medical treatment compared to a male child.
  • 53% of girls in the age group of 5 to 9 years are illiterate.

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Discrimination against female children has been a topic of debate. It has been a subject of concern and social significance. This subject raises the cultural aspects about the role of a female child in society, what her human rights are as a human being.  A social development report presented in 2010 to the World Bank and UNDP, found that the time a female child and a male child spends on various activities is similar, with the exception of domestic work and social/resting time; a female child spends nearly three forth of an hour more on domestic work than a male child and therefore lesser hours of social activity/resting then boys.

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The female child’s status in regard to health is the product of general societal attitude towards women  in India. Girls in India face higher risks of malnutrition, disease, disability and retardation of growth and development. They have no access to or control over the resources. Their work towards raising a family and in the household chores is undervalued. Some argue that due to the culture that has been in the society for so long that a girl child and her value to the family has been undervalued for long,  she is considered as a liability. She is deprived of good food and nutrition. According to a global study conducted by Thomas Reuter, India is the fourth most dangerous country for a girl child in the world.

The female child in India is often deprived from her right of an education. The basic facility of education is deprived to her. Also, even if she is in school, the number of girls dropping out of school far exceeds the boys. Definitely, this is because she is expected to help at home, either in household work like washing, cooking or help in taking care of her younger siblings. Since girls spend more time completing domestic/household chores and this increases the gap between female and male equality in rural parts of India, it perpetuates the myth that education is of no help to the girl and her primary job will be to look after the household work, get married early, have children and then raise them._63422994_01_olwe

We must take steps towards a more fair and equal society for women. Especially  women who discriminate against women. If we want to to progress we must understand the important role that a woman plays in the society. We must acknowledge her rights and provide her with equal opportunities. As an individual, the most important and effective thing you can do is to influence the attitudes of those around you. Make your friends, relatives and immediate family aware of  a woman’s capabilities. To help and know more click at the link below

http://www.dasra.org/girl-empowerment

The Real Slumdogs – Street Children in India

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There was a lot of fuss made over Danny Boyle’s portrayal of India in Slumdog Millionaire, Some Indians were dismayed by the extreme conditions of poverty and desperation shown in the movie. The truth is that conditions of  street children in India  is not as bad as Boyle shows it, in fact they are much worse.  The 10 million street children of India is 10% of the world’s total. We are face these children everyday, we see their dirty faces as they knock on the windows of cars, begging for money or selling us flowers or newspapers.

Street children  refers to those children without a stable home or shelter. There are three major categories of street children:

  • Children who live on the street with their families and often work on the street. There may be children from migrated families, or temporarily migrated and are likely to go back to their homes.
  • Children who live on the street by themselves or in groups and have remote access or contact with their families in the villages. Some children travel to the cities for the day or periods of time to work and then return to their villages.
  • Children who have no ties to their families such as orphans, refugees and runaways.

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I never really understood how bad living on the streets could until  I came across this article in Times of India by  and it really made cry,

The show begins at night. After the sun is swallowed by the smog andneon lights wash the city in yellow, Rahul and his gang emerge from under the flyover. They all look similar — grubby feet, frayed rags, scarred faces, red eyes and brassy hair. They are all under 11. Walking with the swagger of his favourite filmstar, the puny urchin produces a cigarette from his pocket, lights it and blows the smoke into the faces of six other kids who beg for a drag. But Rahul is high: one moment he is Dabangg; another, he is Romeo the kutta. Then he offers the fag to his buddies, but at a price. He punches one, yanks out Rs 5 from another’s pocket, and then grabs Guddi, the only girl in the pack. She screams and giggles as he pulls her towards a dark corner. Then a boy shouts police’ and the group vanishes into the dark garbage dump they call home. 

These are India’s invisible children who have fallen through the cracks. During the day, they sleep amid stinking waste and at night they collect plastic bottles, sell flowers, clean cars, beg or steal — all around a flyover in south Delhi. They all had a home once. They all have a story to tell, but they clamp up when asked about it. Rahul wants a dibba of “good boot polish” before talking. He eats it. “Otherwise, I can’t sleep,” says the 10-year-old who ran away from his home in Gwalior to escape an alcoholic father and a cruel stepmother. Others have similar tales: Guddileft home when her mother tried to push her into prostitution; Guddu’s father beat him mercilessly; Raju was too scared of a teacher at school, and Pappu just got tired of hunger. They took a train to Delhi, got snuffed by gangs roaming the platforms and since then, it has been a story of rape, torture, drugs and starvation..Continue 

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Street children mostly live in open air spaces. There are few to no shelters available in the cities for homeless children. Some may live in a temporary constructed hut or the house of their employer. Majority of street children work. Almost 50% of street children are self-employed as rag-pickers, hawkers, and shoeshine boys, while others work in shops and establishments. Their work hours range between 10-13 hours a day. These children are exposed to high health hazards as population and unhygienic conditions of living. Having no shelter they are constantly exposed to environmental conditions of heat, cold and rain.

According to Slumdogs, a NGO dedicated to helping such children the main causes for their homelessness are:

  • Abuse: Many of the street children who have run away from home have done so because they were beaten or sexually abused. Tragically, their homelessness can lead to further abuse through exploitative child labour and prostitution. Not only does abuse rob runaway children of their material security, but it also leaves them emotionally scarred.
  • Gender Discrimination:In Indian Society females are often discriminated against. Their health, education, prosperity and freedom are all impacted. The problem is worse in conservative Rajasthan than almost anywhere else in India. For example, because girls carry the liability of dowry and leave the family home after marriage, parents may prefer to have male offspring. Many babies are aborted, abandoned or deliberately neglected and underfed simply because they are girls.
  • Poverty: Poverty is the prime cause of the street children crisis. Children from well-off families do not need to work, or beg. They live in houses, eat well, go to school, and are likely to be healthy and emotionally secure. Poverty dumps a crowd of problems onto a child. Not only do these problems cause suffering, but they also conspire to keep the child poor throughout his/her life. In order to survive, a poor child in India will probably be forced to sacrifice education and training; without skills the child will, as an adult, remain at the bottom of the economic heap.

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Many street children also face harassment by municipal authorities and police. One -third of street children complain of persecution by such authorities. Street children also face abuse from their family members, employers and other people. The right to play of a street child is almost  nonexistent as they do not have access to recreational facilities and often venture into activities available to them on the street such as drug abuse, gambling, drinking, etc

 The Indian embassy estimated 314,700 street children in cities like Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Kanpur, Bangalore and Hyderabad and around 100,000 street children in Delhi. In order to provide services to this vulnerable group of children the Government of India began the Integrated Programme for Street Children.  Many NGO’s and government agencies are working together to help these children, steps like  extending extra health facilities, establishing nutrition programs, providing vocational training, protecting children from abuse, distributing dry-food poly packs, providing night shelters, providing ration cards, and creating bathing and toilet facilities are some of the steps that may lead to improvement in these children’s life. If you are willing to help and know more check out the link below.

http://www.slumdogs.org/

Children on Sale – Child Trafficking in India

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Child Trafficking is a global issue, every year 1.2 million children are trafficked worldwide. India has become a prime target for child trafficking with 40,000-90,000 children going missing every year. With a large number of population living below the poverty line conditions such as economic deprivation, lack of employment opportunities, social status and inability  to afford the basic necessities of life, which forces the parents to sell their children off.  According to child protection experts, however, cases in which parents or other family members knowingly sell their children are rare. More often, the family is duped into surrendering their child with the promise that he or she will be given a job and a better life in the city.

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India is a source, destination, and transit country for trafficking for many purposes such as commercial sexual exploitation. Majority of the trafficking is within the country but there are also a large number trafficked from Nepal and Bangladesh. Children are trafficked to Middle Eastern countries for sport such as camel racing. There are no national or regional estimates for the number of children trafficked every year. But 40% of prostitutes are children, and there is a growing demand for young girls in the industry.

NGOs estimate that 12,000 – 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the country annually from neighbouring states for the sex trade. Thousands of girls are trafficked from Bangladesh and Nepal. 200,000 Nepalese girls under 16 years are in prostitution in India. An estimated 1,000 to 1,500 Indian children are smuggled out of the country every year to Saudi Arabia for begging during the Hajj.  Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu have the largest number of people trafficked. Intra state/inter district trafficking is high in Rajasthan, Assam, Meghalaya, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. Delhi and Goa are the major receiver states. Trafficking from north eastern states is high but often over looked. In 2008, 529 girls were trafficked from Assam alone.

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There is a rising demand for live-in maids in urban areas. This has resulted in trafficking of girls from villages in West Bengal, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh to live under extremely poor conditions first in “placement agencies” and later in the employers homes. Placement agents keep the girls in small unhygienic rooms packed together. They are often made to do the placement agent’s household work and subjected to sexual abuse.

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UNICEF has found that children who are forced to beg by third parties are often removed from their families, surrender the majority of their income to their exploiter, endure unsafe work and living conditions, and are at times maimed to increase profits.  In addition to inflections such as blindness and loss of limbs, other physical abuses for the purposes of heightening profits include pouring chili pepper on a child’s tongue to give the appearance of impeded speech, the use of opium to elicit cries, and administering forced injections of drugs that will increase a child’s energy and alertness.

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Sexual exploitation is an issue that is faced among many developing countries and is defined as “the sexual abuse of children and youth through the exchange of sex or sexual acts for drugs, food, shelter, protection, other basics of life, and/or money”. Often young girls are taken from their homes and sold as items to become sex slaves and even forced into prostitution. This may seem bad enough, but sexual exploitation is not always forced. Out of desperation, some parents will even sell their kids off to be sexually abused, in order to be able to afford the basic necessities of life. As the parents are likely to have been sexually abused as children, generations to come are forced to live in this seemingly never-ending cycle of selling their children into sexual exploitation and abuse.

The government of India has made legal provisions to counter trafficking as per the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act 1986. The MWCD has taken a number of Initiatives to combat trafficking of Women and Children. We as citizens must also take important steps such as reporting any case of human trafficking we are aware of, refusing to participate in any trade that involves child trafficking like prostitution and helping in the rehabilitation of  the rescued children. Check out the link below to help and learn more

http://www.rescuefoundation.net/home.html

http://www.catwinternational.org/?gclid=CMO92IrQ3LcCFa7JtAodOQoAFg

Child labour- slaves of poverty

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As  Indians child labour  is one of the worst social realities we face. The sad part is that as a society we have accepted it and no longer recognize it as a problem. No matter which part of India we travel we see children working. We see them everywhere whether it working  in restaurants, selling newspapers, picking garbage or even cleaning toilets We have become so accustomed to this sight that in a way we have stopped looking at them as children at all. For us, they are “filthy brats” , as some people say, that are paid to serve us and work for us. Forget about  us defending these innocent children from the cruel way in which they are treated and exploited by their employers, on the other hand our own behavior becomes more cruel and rough while dealing with these children. I have have personally seen people hitting children for small mistakes, even the manner in which they speak to these children is often so rude. Why? because we know that these children are defenseless.

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Have we ever tried to even imagine what they are going through, not only are they completely deprived of every basic right such as a secure home, healthy food, a clean toilet or even a decent school but they have to work for long hours for much lesser pay yet we as a society far from helping them are not even ready to acknowledge them. Children are the most vulnerable part of any society and a majority of the children in India suffer. Every time a child is forced to leave his childhood and take up the responsibility of a job it is a shame to the entire society. We have to take better steps to protect our children.

  • India is sadly the home to the largest number of child labourers in the world. The census found an increase in the number of child labourers from 11.28 million in 1991 to 12.59 million.
  • In 2001. M.V. Foundation in Andhra Pradesh found nearly 400,000 children, mostly girls between seven and 14 years of age, toiling for 14-16 hours a day in cottonseed production across the country.

  • 40% of the labour in a precious stone cutting sector is children.
  • NGOs have discovered the use of child labourers in mining industry in Bellary District in Karnataka in spite of a harsh ban on the same.
  • In urban areas there is a high employment of children in the zari and embroidery industry.

We can no longer pretend to turn a blind eye on this problem, we need bring change in our society. The first step is to become aware, to find a solution to any problem we must first understand it’s causes.

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Causes:

  • Poverty and lack of social security are the main causes of child labour.

The increasing gap between the rich and the poor, privatization of basic services and the neo-liberal economic policies are causes major sections of the population out of employment and without basic needs. This adversely affects children more than any other group. Entry of multi-national corporations into industry without proper mechanisms to hold them accountable has lead to the use of child labour.

  • Lack of quality universal education

This has also contributed to children dropping out of school and entering the labour force. A major concern is that the actual number of child labourers goes un-detected. Laws that are meant to protect children from hazardous labour are ineffective and not implemented correctly.

  • Bonded child labour

Bonded labour means the employment of a person against a loan or debt or social obligation by the family of the child or the family as a whole. It is a form of slavery. Children who are bonded with their family or inherit a debt from their parents are often found in agricultural sector or assisting their families in brick kilns, and stone quarries. Individual pledging of children is a growing occurrence that usually leads to trafficking of children to urban areas for employment and have children working in small production houses versus factories.

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A growing phenomenon is using children as domestic workers in urban areas. The conditions in which children work is completely unregulated and they are often made to work without food, and very low wages, resembling situations of slavery. There are cases of physical, sexual and emotional abuse of child domestic workers. The argument for domestic work is often that families have placed their children in these homes for care and employment. Many of these families are educated and have children of their own yet their treatment of these other children they employee is often cruel and degrading.

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According to HAQ: Centre for child rights, child labour is highest among schedules tribes, Muslims, schedule castes and OBC children. The persistence of child labour is due to the inefficiency of the law, administrative system and because it benefits employers who can reduce general wage levels. HAQ argues that distinguishing between hazardous and non hazardous employment is counter-productive to the elimination of child labour. Various growing concerns have pushed children out of school and into employment such as forced displacement due to development projects, Special Economic Zones; loss of jobs of parents in a slowdown, farmers’ suicide; armed conflict and high costs of health care. Girl children are often used in domestic labour within their own homes. There is a lack of political will to actually see to the complete ban of child labour.

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The presence of a large number of child labourers is regarded as a serious issue in terms of economic welfare. Children who work fail to get necessary education. They do not get the opportunity to develop physically, intellectually, emotionally and psychologically.  Children in hazardous working conditions are in worse condition. Children who work, instead of going to school, remain illiterate which limits their ability to contribute to their own well being as well as to community they live in. Child labour has long term adverse effects for India. To keep an economy prospering, a vital criteria is to have an educated workforce equipped with relevant skills for the needs of the industries. The young labourers today, will be part of India’s human capital tomorrow. Child labour undoubtedly results in a trade-off with human capital accumulation.

Broken Dreams – A short movie on child labor in India.

Whenever we discuss such issues many people quickly point towards the lack of government initiative, but I feel that as long as we as a society take a stand no matter how many legislative policies the government makes nothing will ever change. We have to take responsibility for how far we have led this problem grow. We must be ashamed because when child in exploited it is not only by his employee but by each one of us who stood their watching. If we could just replace these children with our own we will realize the suffering they are going through. Let’s step up as a society, no matter which part of India you are in you will find numerous NGOs workin to help them. Check out the link below to know more and to help.

http://www.karmayog.org/childlabour/childlabour_18034.htm

Status of children India

100_1188India has the worlds largest child population of 400 million and this is not a very good news. Children in India are some of the most abused in the world. Whether it is health, education, standard of living, crime or safety India has the worst numbers. India has one of the fastest growing economies with an average growth rate of 6.1% yet this growth has not let to development it to face the challenges of  povertyilliteracycorruptionmalnutrition and inadequate public healthcare.Children therefore are the most vulnerable to these problems.

According to the CRY(Child Rights and You):

The situation of underprivileged children in India

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  • 40% of India’s population is below the age of 18 years which at 400 million is the world’s largest child population.
  • Less than half of India’s children between the age 6 and 14 go to school.
  • A little over one-third of all children who enroll in grade one reach grade eight.
  • One in every ten children is disabled in India.
  • 95 in every 1000 children born in India, do not see their fifth birthday.
  • 70 in every 1000 children born in India, do not see their first birthday.
  • Only 38% of India’s children below the age of 2 years are immunized.
  • 74% of India’s children below the age of 3 months are anemic.
  • More than one in three women in India and over 60% of children in India are anemic.
  • Acute respiratory infections are leading causes of child mortality (30%) followed by diarrhoea (20%) in India.
  • One in every 100 children in India between age group of 0-14 years suffers from acute respiratory infection.
  • Almost one in every five children in India below the age of 14 suffers from diarrhoea. 30-40% of the India’s population, which is largely economically deprived, spends over 70% of their total expenditure on food.
  • Among married women in India today, 75% were under age at the time of their marriages.
  • While one in every five adolescent boys is malnourished, one in every two girls in India is undernourished.
  • 23% of India’s children are underweight at birth.
  • 58% of India’s children below the age of 2 years are not fully vaccinated. And 24% of these children do not receive any form of vaccination.
  • More that 50% of India’s children are malnourished.

Education

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  • In India, only 53% of habitation have a primary school.
  • In India, only 20% of habitation have a secondary school.
  • On an average an upper primary school is 3 km away in 22% of areas under habitations.
  • In nearly 60% of schools, there are less than two teachers to teach Classes I to V.
  • On an average, there are less than three teachers per primary school. They have to manage classes from I to V every day.
  • Dropout rates increase alarmingly in class III to V, its 50% for boys, 58% for girls.
  • 1 in 40, primary school in India is conducted in open spaces or tents.
  • More than 50 per cent of girls fail to enroll in school; those that do are likely to drop out by the age of 12.
  • 50% of Indian children aged 6-18 do not go to school

Situation of the Girl Child

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In addition to the deaths of infants and children due to undernourishment and disease, innumerable and unrecorded numbers of girl children are killed within hours of being born while many others are killed in the womb itself. Patriarchal norms, low status of women and preference for male children are the primary reasons that threaten survival of female children in India. The alarming fact is that female infanticide or fetuses has increased over the past few decades. While in 1960 there were 976 girls born for every 1000 boys, in 2001, there are only 927 girls for every 1000 boys.

  • 1 out of every 6 girls does not live to see her 15th birthday.
  • Of the 12 million girls born in India, 1 million do not see their first birthday.
  • Every sixth girl child’s death is due to gender discrimination.
  • 1 out of 4 girls is sexually abused before the age of 4.
  • Female mortality exceeds male mortality in 224 out of 402 districts in India.
  • Death rate among girls below the age of 4 years is higher than that of boys. Even if she escapes infanticide or foeticide, a girl child is less likely to receive immunisation, nutrition or medical treatment compared to a male child.
  • 53% of girls in the age group of 5 to 9 years are illiterate.

Child Labor

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Children are often treated as the “property” of the very adults who are supposed to care for them; they are ordered around, threatened, coerced, silenced, with complete disregard of them as “persons” with rights and freedoms.

  • 17 million children in India work as per official estimates.
  • A study found that children were sent to work by compulsion and not by choice, mostly by parents, but with recruiter playing a crucial role in influencing decision.
  • When working outside the family, children put in an average of 21 hours of labor per week
  • 90% working children are in rural India.
  • 85% of working children are in the unorganized sectors.
  • About 80% of child labour is engaged in agricultural work.
  • 25% of the victims of commercial sexual exploitation in India are below 18 years of age.
  • Millions of children work to help their families because the adults do not have appropriate employment and income thus forfeiting schooling and opportunities to play and rest.
  • Large numbers of children work simply because there is no alternative – since, they do not have access to good quality schools.
  • Poor and bonded families often “sell” their children to contractors who promise lucrative jobs in the cities and the children end up being employed in brothels, hotels and domestic work. Many run away and find a life on the streets.

All children have the right to be protected from work that interferes with their normal growth and development. Abandoned children, children without families and disabled children need special care and protection.

Child commercial sex workers

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  • There are approximately 2 million child commercial sex workers between the age of 5 and 15 years and about 3.3 million between 15 and 18 years.
  • They form 40% of the total population of commercial sex workers in India.
  • 80% of these are found in the 5 metros.
  • 71% of them are illiterate.
  • 500,000 children are forced into this trade every year.

Mentally/ physically challenged children

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  • 3% of India’s children are mentally/physically challenged.
  • 20 out of every 1000 rural children are mentally/physically challenged, compared to 16 out of every 1000 urban children.
  • Mentally/physically challenged girls are at a particular risk to violence and abuse.

The Indian Constitution clearly states that every child has the right to free and compulsory elementary education, right to be protected from any hazardous employment, right to be protected form being abused and forced, right to equal opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom, dignity, guaranteed protection of childhood and youth against exploitation, against moral and material abandonment. Despite these provisions children in India have been denied these rights and exploited.

What can you do?

Many organisations have taken initiatives to improve the lives of these children. As fellow citizens we need to join hands with these organisations so that the children in our country may enjoy a brighter future. Please check the links below to take help:

Center for Child Rights 

CRY(Child Rights and You)

Save the Childeren

UNICEF India

Child Line India